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Let the people win

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A women tries to vote through the window at a polling station in Kano, commercial capital of northern Nigeria, on February 23, 2019. – Nigeria began counting votes in presidential elections, even as many people had yet to even cast their ballot because of delays in the opening of polling units and problems with staffing and technology. Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last week announced a one-week delay to the election, just hours before it was due to get under way. The presidential contest will see incumbent Muhammadu Buhari (APC) seek to win a second four-year term against former vice president Atiku Abubakar (PDP). (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Democracy is about the primacy of the people to determine who wins elections, who gets the seat and who drives the development process.

Whoever wins the elections has an obligation to the people. By the time we read this essay, the results of the general elections of 16th February may already be fully known or partially so.

Of course there would be fake reports in circulation promoting one side of the issues before the official result is made known.

For some reason the incumbent government has not been sitting pretty with solid achievements to point to.

It has appeared jittery and desperate as we can read from the strategies being put in place before and during the elections.

Let the people win! After the results are released, some would be sad while others would hit the streets for being accepted by a majority of the people.

There would have been complaints about rigging, about cheating the process and how things added up or did not add up.

Whatever it is, let the people win. Let the people be the ultimate winners in the election.

Politicians tend to lose sight of this fact as they jostle for victory. The losers should acknowledge defeat or if there are issues let the courts redress them. Self-help is not acceptable.

Let the people win! Nigeria is a vast country with about eighty-three million registered voters spread across thirty-six states and a Federal Capital Territory.

Reaching out to these persons is quite a task. But they must hear the campaign issues of the day in order to decide who to vote for. It is true that quite a number of registered voters have said they won’t vote.

Some are scared of violence that may break out at the voting centres.

Yet others simply have refused to vote because they do not have confidence in any of the candidates. It is free world. Yet the people must win.

The people must win! The general elections are about the people, not about the candidates. There are too many issues crying for attention.

Whoever wins must first think about uniting the country, bringing together all the opposing forces that have dominated the country in the last three years.

There is a perception that the country is more divided along ethnic lines than it was three years ago.

The lopsided nature of federal appointments is one of the pointers. Whoever wins must ensure that appointments reflect the ethnic composition of Nigeria.

For some reason there has been silence on the side of the herdsmen who once went on the rampage across the country.

The question now is whether some forces called them to order till after the elections. This is a perception. If it is true then something more sinister is indeed going on; not healthy, not comforting.

Let the people win! Whoever wins the elections should consider the issue of restructuring the country. The current political structure does not encourage initiative.

In other words let us return to true federalism that would make the states more proactive, responsible and competitive.

In a federation there ought to be a focus on developing natural resources for which they have an advantage.

The current situation where we all depend on oil has led to a curse on us. It is unhealthy, anti-development, risky and retrogressive. The truth is that if the states are pushed or compelled by circumstances to act they will indeed succeed.

Let the people win! One of the biggest issues to be confronted is poverty. How many Nigerians can feed their families adequately? How many families feed satisfactorily? There are too many people in the poverty bracket in the country. Unemployment and poverty combined are a deadly force for social unrest.

Too many graduates are looking for just any job to carry on in life. If we preach morality and sincerity to people who cannot feed their families we would be deceiving ourselves.

Let the people win! The war on corruption would have to be streamlined in such a way that the women with the blindfold and the scales would visit anyone who is guilty of infraction.

The current situation in which the fight is one-sided gives the entire battle a dubious outlook. While doing this living standards should be improved just a social welfare.

Infrastructure and support services should be elevated to the highest level possible to make stealing less attractive to the average civil servant.

The wage regime across the country particularly in the public sector is equivalent to slave wages. Most public officers cannot meet their basic obligations with the salary they earn from their workplace.

Let the people win! Education is a big issue. The educational system is so distorted these days that we hardly know where to start from.

The federal government should stop establishing more universities. The existing ones should be granted relative autonomy so that they may generate enough funds for self-sustenance.

The strikes in the universities have become an annual ritual. The truth is government is no longer in a position to fund all the universities. There are too many things competing for attention.

Let the people win! If the people win let inflation be tackled head on. Women and traders all complain that prices are never stable.

Whereas prices of commodities keep going up, we cannot say the same for wages or incomes.

We have not become sophisticated enough as to adjust salaries to inflation rates. So the quality of life continues to deteriorate at an alarming level.

Let the people win. If the people win, there will be no contest or violence at the polls. It is when there is a thwarting of the will of the people that the people react. And when they react, it is often out of proportion.

However violence is not the answer. If the people feel shortchanged they should defend their votes through legal means and ensure that their PVCs do count at the end of the day.

All contestants therefore have a great responsibility on their shoulders: they must ensure that the power of the ballot box is respected with a view to entrenching democracy in the land. I wish all Nigerians a good time with whoever gets the nod of Nigerians.


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